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Indebted to Ambedkar’s Constitution: Modi in Bihar

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PURNEA/GAYA (BIHAR), April 16: In an apparent rebuttal of the opposition’s charge that the BJP wanted to scrap the Constitution, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asserted that he felt “indebted to Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s samvidhan” which enabled him to rise from humble origins.

Modi, who addressed back-to-back election rallies in Bihar’s Gaya and Purnea districts, spoke extensively of the high esteem in which he held the Constitution, mentioning his government’s measures like “celebrating Samvidhan Diwas, from schools to the Supreme Court and Parliament”.

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“This year is special. We are going to celebrate 75 years of the Constitution on a scale similar to the Amrit Kaal celebrations which marked 75 years of Independence”, said Modi, adding “Our intent is to reach out to every nook and corner of the country where youngsters will be told how our glorious Constitution was drafted and what is its significance”.

“People ask me why do I care so much for the poor, the Dalits. I do so because I have risen from among them. I therefore, feel, indebted to the social class. I also feel indebted towards the Constitution framed by Babasaheb Ambedkar which helped me reach where I am,” said the Prime Minister.

Modi’s refrain came a day after RJD president Lalu Prasad, the BJP’s principal opponent in Bihar, raked up utterances made by a number of leaders of the saffron party who have said the “Constitution will be changed if we get two-thirds majority in Parliament”.

References are also being made to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s call for “review” of the Constitution in 2015, when Prasad used the statement to allege that the provision of reservations for deprived castes was under attack, and the BJP-led NDA was trounced in the assembly polls held that year.

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Modi, who has been equating the Constitution with sacred books like the Ramayana, Bible and Koran, pointed out that it was under the rule of the Congress, the RJD’s ally, that the Emergency was imposed and several constitutional provisions were suspended.

“Our opponents are those who had held the Constitution hostage and tried to tamper with it during the Emergency. Those who want power to remain confined within the hands of a family always treat the Constitution as an eyesore. A reason why they have even begun to threaten that they will not accept outcomes of polls held under the provisions of the Constitution. We must remain united to foil their attempts,” said the prime minister.

Holding out abrogation of Article 370 as a “big achievement” of the NDA government, Modi said, “Those who cry hoarse about the Constitution never had the courage to implement it in Jammu and Kashmir. When we bit the bullet, they threatened that the entire region will be on fire”.

The prime minister also pulled no punches in attacking the RJD, which he mentioned by name, and accused of having ushered in “jungle raj and corruption” while in power in Bihar and “claiming credit for all the good work done by the NDA government headed by Nitish Kumar”.

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Kumar, who heads the JD(U), was conspicuous by his absence at both rallies, though the one at Purnea was held for party MP and candidates Santosh Kushwaha and Dulal Chandra Goswami.

The PM stressed that “NDA brought Bihar out of the era of jungle raj” and warned that crackdown on corruption will continue in the next five years, apparently referring to the name of Prasad and his family members, including son and heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav, figuring in scams being investigated by central agencies.

In Purnea, Modi spoke of “ambitious schemes” launched by his government for development of the district, in particular, and the Seemanchal region in general, drawing a contrast with governments of the past which washed their hands off by seeing the backwardness of the area as irreversible.

Modi also came down heavily on “vote bank politics which has allowed infiltration to flourish in Seemanchal”, claiming “this has been to the detriment of the poor, the Dalits of the region, many of whom have suffered attacks and even their houses have been set on fire”.

“The fate of this region hinges on the poll outcome of June 4”, said the PM, adding, “Those who oppose the CAA should know Modi is not someone who can be stopped or cowed down”.

“Today everybody is saying that it is only the NDA government at the Centre which is capable of big achievements”, said Modi, holding out the examples of Ram temple at Ayodhya, abrogation of Article 370 and military operations in response to cross-border terrorism.

In his speech at Gaya, Modi also spoke of the pilgrim town’s fame and underscored his government’s efforts to preserve the country’s cultural heritage, adding, “Our fight is against those who have no respect for our culture”.

The rally at Gaya also served as an occasion to soothe ruffled feathers as those invited to share the stage with the Prime Minister included Pashupati Kumar Paras, who recently resigned from the Union cabinet in protest against the NDA giving weightage to his estranged nephew Chirag Paswan, and Ashwini Kumar Choubey, who has been denied the BJP ticket from Buxar, which he has represented two times on the trot.

At the Gaya rally, the PM also took the mic while names of others present on the occasion were being announced.

He said “I may please be excused for breaking the protocol. It is going to be a hectic day when I am scheduled to address five rallies and have to visit up to Assam”.

The PM had to repeatedly ask euphoric crowds at both Gaya and Purnea to give up chants of “Modi! Modi!” while he was holding forth. He said, “Save this enthusiasm for the polling date. It will be needed a lot”. (PTI)




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